Village People: 20/03/10

Blairites win one battle in Labour stronghold but lose another

The Blairites in the Labour Party have won a small battle but lost another. In Lancashire, they belatedly added a local councillor, Johnny Reynolds, to the list of potential runners in Stalybridge and Hyde, where the incumbent Blairite MP, James Purnell is standing down.

But in Stoke-on-Trent, an Old Labour stronghold with at least eight separate political groups on the city council, Mark Fisher, the long-serving MP for Stoke Central, is pulling out after two brain operations. Then warnings were posted on the internet that the West Midlands regional organiser, Ian Riley, a dedicated Blairite, was going to suspend the local party to stop its elected officers from influencing the selection process, and impose an all-women shortlist, to maximise the chances of getting a Blairite into the Commons. But Harriet Harman was persuaded that this is no time to start a fight with a local party. Stoke Central will be given a shortlist in a couple of days, and it will not be all women.

Nothing 'nasty party' about this leaflet

The Conservative Party used to be the "nasty party" but David Cameron and his image consultants have done a very good job of throwing off that reputation. The leaflet pictured here is the work of the new, nice Conservative Party, in Romford, in Essex.

'Telegraph' turns on one of its own and a media war is on

One of the more bizarre feuds on the Tory right is between The Daily Telegraph and Nadine Dorries, a backbench MP. There is no ideology in it. Dorries is one of those far right, anti-abortion Tories who would seem to be well on the Telegraph's wavelength. Yet on Thursday, the national daily had a story barely interesting enough to merit the inside pages of a local newspaper, that Dorries was a friend – even, they hinted, possibly more than a friend – of a local radio presenter running as an independent in Luton South, against Esther Rantzen. This trivia was blasted over the front page, with more inside. Yesterday, the newspaper had another go at Dorries, over her second home. She retaliated on her blog by saying their reporter had been chased out of the village by angry locals. "He stood out like a sore thumb in the biting wind, wearing his city-slicker grey overcoat," she claimed. This is fun. Let's hope they never make peace.

The (male) Winner Takes It All at the policy wonks' quiz

I hear that the annual policy wonks' quiz night in the Pillared Room in Downing Street, with its plush Persian carpet and enormous painting of Queen Bess over the fireplace, ended in an unstately row. The Political Office, a largely female team, thought they had won by half a point, but the male-dominated Policy Unit nicked it on appeal because it triumphed in a newly introduced last round: singing an Abba song. It was "Thank You For the Music".